|Mark Young at a skatepark at Beechmont. FTM file.|
Fort Thomas resident Mark Young is no ordinary 55-year-old man. How many 55-year-olds do you know that skateboard?
Still partaking in the same passion since he was a young boy, Young is dreaming big as he hopes to bring a skate park to Fort Thomas.
Young, the son of an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, began skating when he was about 10-years old after his family had to move to Hawaii for his father’s work. His family then moved to Gainesville, Florida, where he said skateboarding “took over my life.”
"After that, I was never without my board, and I skated whenever, wherever I could,” Young said.
Despite his love and passion for skating, he stopped skating in the 1980’s when “skateboarding died.” He was in his 20’s.
“I stopped skating like everyone else,” Young said. “I spent many years watching kids skate, missing it very much.”
Young began skating again after he married his wife, Diane, and began having children. When his first son Micah was six years old, he put Micah on a skateboard for the first time and Micah has been skating ever since. Young then taught his twins, Matthew and Catherine, how to skate when they could barely walk. Now, they all skate together.
The lack of places to skate in their neighborhood and city is the reason why Young would like to see a skate park in Fort Thomas.
“There are a number of really good parks in our area, but they are all a good drive away,” Young said. “I began to imagine having a place where my kids and their friends could go after school and on weekends to have fun and get exercise, that didn’t require a 30-minute drive and a chaperone.”
Young said that it was “unnerving” when his three kids would skate in the streets in Fort Thomas.
“The simple fact that cars and skateboarders don’t mix was the first seed of inspiration for the idea of a skate park in Fort Thomas,” Young said.
Young approached the city several years ago about the possibility of a skate park in Fort Thomas. He said it was not well received and decided to do his own research on costs and other expenses while waiting for the right time to approach the city again.
|Young's son, Matthew, skating at age 2. FTM file.|
“As I have noticed more and more kids in Fort Thomas skating, I decided to approach city officials again,” Young said.
The plan was better received by city officials, both at City Hall and in the parks department; Mayor Eric Haas has been interested as well.
“Mayor Haas recently replied very positively to my inquiry about the process and offer of help,” Young said.
As of today, there is no “plan” in the process, as discussions are still very early.
“The City is studying utilization patterns of park properties, and the possibilities for location will emerge with the proper study and discussion,” Young said. “The actual design of the park will be developed when we are deeper in the process, and the decision to actually move forward is made.”
|Young's daughter, Katherine skating at age 3. FTM file.|
Until then, Young will continue taking part in his lifelong passion, skating in empty pools and “vert” ramps. Young calls himself a “evangelist of skateboard safety,” saying that until a safe skate park where rules such as required helmets is built, the city will continue to be a skate park itself.
“I want to see skateboarding become a part of our city’s culture, and build a positive place for kids who may not be drawn to traditional sports,” Young said. “Once a kid gets the hang of riding a skateboard, they aren’t likely to stop.”
“So remember, if our city doesn’t HAVE a skate park, our city IS a skate park.”